Monday, November 8, 2010

How Did a Nice Suburban White Boy End Up Worshiping Kali? Part 2

When I was three I stuck a screwdriver into a wall socket. I had never used a screwdriver and wasn't sure what wall sockets were; it just seemed like the one should fit into the other-- as it did, but with unexpected sparks.

Thirty-one years after my parents wrested the screwdriver from my hands and replaced it with a cold washcloth I didn't let go of for hours, I got the chance to spend six weeks in New Zealand. A Heavenly Creatures fan, I looked forward to visiting Ilam House and Port Levy, and--I don't know. Drinking beer? Sure... it was a vacation, a respite from years on the job market and an exhausting regimen of scut work for my temporary employers, done in the thin hope I could goose them into becoming my permanent employers. That life had left me tired, cynical, covetous, and with constant back pain. I wanted a real job, I wanted more money, I wanted to use my talents on some masterpiece of something or other, I wanted the world to do me the wholly reasonable favor of conforming to my expectations. I really wanted my back to stop hurting.

Seductively, New Zealand fulfilled most of these wishes. The very favorable exchange rate doubled my limited U.S. dollars; my journal entries grew into interesting meditations and ficciones in response to the intoxicating beauty of the land, the astonishing richness of the food, the wine, the bookstores, the museums... and I endured two pounding, punishing, liberating massages that cured my back pain for good. The shaman-masseur who administered this initiation showed me how I held a burning knot of tension in the middle of my back and thus caused my own misery-- a preview of guru talks and Al-Anon meetings to come. You can only imagine the relief of being pain-free, after years, if you've felt it yourself. It felt like my life began again.

The Mother, in whose existence I no longer believed other than as some archetypal mist of human wanting, used everything around me to clear the decks so I could again meet Her face to face. She took me to an Eden foreign enough and gratified my various desires sweetly enough that I gradually entered an unfamiliar state of wonderment and peaceful receptiveness--and gratitude. Something that happened on my first full day in the country set the stage for this new way of mind and served as a heavenly foot in the door of my heart, allowing the Mother enough gap to wrench the door from its jamb in the coming years.

I'd read by this time the theory that the real-life murderesses portrayed in Peter Jackson's poetic Heavenly Creatures had been zapped by some kind of heavy occult energy while visiting Port Levy, a remote fjord on the South Island, and that this might have led to the violent climax of their folie à deux. According to Pauline Parker's diary, while at Port Levy on holiday she and her Beloved, Juliet Hulme, found themselves utterly swept into an alternate universe as real as this one, "sort of like Heaven, only better." But I wasn't looking for a door to the "Fourth World" as I drove to Port Levy in my rented Holden Vectra, my head awash with the tidal voices of the Maori choir that the hotel clock radio had awakened me with. The film had impressed me deeply and since seeing it I had associated Jackson's "heavenly creatures" with my own two female spirit guides, though my girls, I'm happy to say, abhorred violence. I didn't know what to expect from my pilgrimage, and just getting there in one piece on the tightly winding, dangerously narrow gravel road felt like an initiation.

Port Levy (in Maori, Koukourarata, "the place of the tame owl"--what a metaphor for the Holy Guardian Angel) was my second screwdriver in the outlet. I've posted about it before; the place shocked me into an out-of-self experience like the ones you hear about where the person's floating on the ER ceiling, looking down at herself getting CPR...  it wasn't that dramatic at the time, but it was a jarring reminder that there was something outside myself, greater than myself, Something mysterious and powerful that welled up into the world in every instant, like sea water in beach footprints. I heard, quite loudly, a babble of Maori ancestral spirits talking to me; my head spun with the magick of the place, the pulsing gigawatt shakti. I got "lost" on a strip of beach barely bigger than a living room, and the Earth was alive again, aware, looking back at me, kissing me with sunlets on water. None of this was supposed to happen; I knew too well the wishful thinking and mythic archetypes that made people think it happened... but once again reality was outrunning mind, logic and proportion were falling sloppy dead and I didn't even have a dose of chemistry to blame. The alien otherness of the place, its electric embrace, put me on alert again for Her voice, and so a short while later it seemed like a sign that I received that life-altering massage and that I found a remaindered copy of a book about the Goddess in a bookstore in Wellington, sitting lonely on a sale table with pulp novels and history books.

Mark Matousek's Sex Death Enlightenment touched me just as deeply as the massage, smoothing out the inflamed knots of my mind and confronting me with a personality even more suspicious and jaded than mine, who'd had his heart pierced and set aflame by Her. The Divine Mother thus reset me to zero-- psychically, intellectually, and physically, making me ready for Her divine invasion.

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